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Archive for the ‘Pho’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-New Year’s Eve 1995 – Live at Madison Square Garden (2005).

Phish has always made New Year’s Eve shows special (I have tried for a few years now to get tickets but have failed).  These shows are usually long, full of surprises and something of a spectacle (this was especially true when they were younger, like in this show–Rolling Stone named it as one of the “Greatest Concerts of the ’90s”).  The concert features a cover of The Who’s “Drowned” and “Sea and Sand” as well as a substantial number of songs from Phish’s mythic and hardly ever played Gamehendge cycle.

“Punch You in the Eye” opens the show with a funky groove and some great sing-alongs (this is a tangential Gamehendge song).  If you watch the video, you can see Trey and Mike dance during the salsa moments, which is pretty amusing.  As the song ends, Page gets a lengthy piano solo while Trey plays percussion.

“The Sloth” is an interesting second song–its chugs along and is very heavy (it’s also the second song in a row to mention getting sliced on the nipple).  (this is a proper Gamehendge song).  “Reba” sounds great—and at 14 minutes, it’s got a good stretching out guitar solo.  “The Squirming Coil” is one that I want to see live.  This version is mellow with a lengthy piano solo–it segues perfectly into “Maze” which has a long keyboard solo and then a guitar solo.  (20 minutes total).

Then things settle down into the Gamehendge saga.  It begins with “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent”in which he talks all about the Gamehendge Time Lab where the Phish guys work when they are not touring,  They say that they used the Helping Friendly Book to learn how to make time move forward–otherwise we’d be stuck in 1994 all the time and you’d hear the same songs on the radio (they play a minute of Collective Soul’s “Shine”).  This is all part of  lengthy “Fly Famous Mockingbird)

“Sparkle” sounds great with a super fast ending.  And the first set ends with an 8 minute “Chalk Dust Torture” which has a great solo.

Set two opens with the audience chess move in which the audience member defeated the band by capturing its queen.  Score at the end of 1995: band 1, audience 1.

Then they play a great version of The Who’s “Drowned” (even is Mike can’t hit all the notes).   It segues into a rocking “The Lizards” (part of Gamehendge) and an even more rocking “Axilla, Pt. 2” (tangential Gamehendge).  “Runaway Jim” is a 16 minute jam with a middle part that slows down to just bass and audience clapping–and then some 70s funky keyboards while Trey plays his own percussion kit. Things settle down with a pretty “Strange Design” and an a capella “Hello, My Baby” (which is totally audible hooray).

And they end set two with a great 20-minute “Mike’s Song.”  The first jam is Page and Mike and its long and groovy and the last five or so minutes ends in very trippy sequence with trey jamming on his digital delay pedal.

Set three begins with the end of the year countdown.  The notes for the disc talk about the Gamehendge Time Machine (you can watch the Countdown and celebration here–as well as the whole show).  Fish is dressed like baby new year.

Once the countdown finishes, they launch into an instrumental version of “Auld Lang Syne” which segues into a fun 17 minute “Weekapaug Groove” (Trey throws in some “Auld Lang Syne” notes into the solo).  It turns into a surprisingly stark piano melody of The Who’s “Sea and Sand” (sung by Page).  This is followed by a 25 minute “YEM.”  There’s a big long keyboard solo and then some lengthy guitar solos before the song settles to complete silence.  The silence ends with a whispered ”washufeet” that morphs in and out of Trey whispering and everyone muttering and making noises and becomes a vocal jam that is mostly harmonies.

They come out of the that with a bright version of Sanity.  It starts really rocking especially when they all start shouting “BOOM, POW.”  The set ends with an awesome version of Frankenstein (complete with one more “Auld Lang Syne” solo nod in the middle).

After nearly three and a half hours of playing, the band still had time for an encore—a rollicking version of “Johnny B Goode.”

Now that’s a way to welcome in the new year!

[READ: March 30, 2017] “The Sympathizer”

I really enjoyed this excerpt, but I was puzzled about what direction the story would go after this section.

I was also puzzled at first as to why this story was in the Pho Issue of the magazine (stories don’t necessarily correspond to issue themes).  It starts off in Vietnam, so I figured that was the tenuous connection.  And that was fine.

The narrator is reading a screenplay of a movie set in Vietnam.  He has been called in to counsel the auteur (whom he agrees is, in fact, talented) on the Vietnamese-ness of the story.  But the narrator is not to be swayed.  He himself wants to work in Hollywood, but he is immediately on guard against the racism that he encounters.  Or maybe it’s all in his head–he is certainly prepared to be offended by everything.

Not least because the screenplay, while good for the white heroes, treats every Vietnamese person exactly the same.  None of them have any lines [cut to villager speaking in their own language], most of them simply scream, and if they’re not getting killed (bad guys) they are thankful to the white people for saving them.

The narrator gets right in the auteur’s face with a very dramatic demonstration of how people scream differently in different circumstances. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: REAL ESTATE-Tiny Desk Concert #202 (March 12, 2012).

I enjoyed some Real Estate songs, but i never listened to their whole albums.  I thought this Tiny Desk show would give me more sonic information about them.

This three song set is very pleasing.  The music is soft and nonabrasive, with a very smooth feel (as you can see they are dressed in sweaters and cardigans, so this is not really a shock).  It’s poppy without having any real hooks.  They remind me of a less catchy Guster or a less dramatic Smiths (“Green Aisles,” especially for the bass and guitar solo) or gentler Death Cab for Cutie (“Municipality”).

There’s nothing to radically distinguish these three songs (radical is not a word that would apply to Real Estate), although “Green Aisles” has a few more dynamic moments (mostly from the change in drum patterns).

This review sounds like I didn’t like the set, but that’s not true.  As I said, it’s very pleasant.  And sometimes pleasant is what you want.

You can hear it here.

[READ: March 11, 2012] Same Difference

First Second continues to publish some of the most beautiful and thought-provoking graphic novels around.  This is a republication of a story that first appeared in a collection (and proceeded to win an Eisner, Harvey and Ignatz Award).

The story is about Simon and his close friend Nancy.  It opens with them in a Vietnamese Restaurant in Oakland, CA.  The first scene of the book is wonderfully drawn–we look in on the characters through a fish tank–fish are practically littering the panels–it’s very cool.

The two of them are with their friend Ian and they are shooting the breeze, talking nonsense.  And then Simon sees a woman that he knew from high school.  She is sitting at the bus stop and Simon wants to, but can’t, talk to her.  Her name is Irene, she seems sad, eyes downcast looking at the ground.  And then Simon reveals that she is blind.

In high school, he and Irene were very close.  He helped her out, described films to her in class, and “rescued” her from bullies.  And then she invited him to a Sadie Hawkins dance.  He doesn’t like her that way, so he lied to get out of it.  She never found out about the lies, but it has haunted him for the last seven years.

Later, Nancy figured out the truth of the matter, and even though we the readers probably guessed it as well, it still hit hard when it was spoken aloud. (more…)

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